WIRED

For the few who haven't noticed by scrolling Twitter to the point of agony, the political climate sucks right now.

Partisan politics are pretty much always messy, soul-crushing chaos, but especially these days as the fate of the 2020 presidential election gets closer (but not too close...it's still March, people). Still, during these trying times, what better way to break up the centrist white man narrative than with some female-hosted political podcasts?

Whether you're a full-speed-ahead progressive or a more subtle centrist, there's a podcast to help you feel less alone.

The Electorette

Among the slew of podcasts that spawned from the fateful 2016 election is the Electorette, which features interviews with brilliant female minds—politicians, authors, activists, you name it. What each guest of the semi-anonymous host, Jenn, share is a passion for progressive policy and leading the resistance.

The Electorette Podcast

The Electorette Podcast open.spotify.com

Reply Guys

Julia Claire and Kate Willett are comedians, political activists, and hosts of Reply Guys, a podcast in which they discuss progressive politics with like-minded guests with a healthy dose of filterless humor. If hating billionaires is a hobby of yours, this one's for you.

Reply Guys

Reply Guys open.spotify.com


Pantsuit Politics

Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers host Pantsuit Politics, a bipartisan podcast that values connection and conversations to help us all understand politics a little better. This country isn't going to get any better if we don't learn how to cohesively and calmly discuss it, right?

Pantsuit Politics

Pantsuit Politics open.spotify.com


The Rachel Maddow Show

You know Rachel Maddow for her namesake commentary show on MSNBC, but her liberal hot-takes are available on-the-go in podcast form, too.

The Rachel Maddow Show

The Rachel Maddow Show open.spotify.com

On One With Angela Rye

Angela Rye is a CNN political commentator. Her podcast, On One, searches for honest, nuanced answers to the most important issues in politics, particularly how they pertain to race and pop culture.

On One with Angela Rye

On One with Angela Rye open.spotify.com


Stephanie Miller's Happy Hour Podcast

Hating Donald Trump has never been so uncensored. On Stephanie Miller's Happy Hour Podcast, the original "sexy liberal" talks politics and pop culture with her comical friends over stiff drinks.

Stephanie Miller's Happy Hour Podcast

Stephanie Miller's Happy Hour Podcast open.spotify.com


Hear the Bern

National Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray hosts this podcast about everyone's favorite democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, featuring discussions with campaign staffers, organizers, activists, regular people, and sometimes even the man himself.

Hear the Bern

Hear the Bern open.spotify.com

Music Reviews

Hear Fritz Hutchison's New Album "Wild Wild Acres"

Watch Fritz perform at 3PM on Popdust's livestream on Saturday, May 30th.

Fritz Hutchison just released his debut album, Wild Wild Acres.

It's the kind of album that will make you want to lounge in a hammock all day or ride a horse across the country or just drop everything and howl at the moon—it sounds like that kind of freedom. Hutchison is alternatively blunt and sincere, a trickster with a performative flair and a penchant for sunny hooks.

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CULTURE

Ariana, Bernie, Trump, A$AP Rocky, and the Kardashians: How Politics Became Pop Culture

Pop culture can be useful when connected to politics if it inspires tangible action—but the two can be like fire and gasoline when combined in the wrong way.

In a world where the Kardashians and A$AP Rocky have been name-dropped during literal impeachment hearings, it's hard not to wonder if we're living in a simulation.

Of course everything about Donald Trump's regime has had a simulacra-like quality about it, as full of glitches as any beta website. The former reality TV star has often been called the "social media president," after all, and his prolific Twitter usage grows more surreal by the hour.

We've entered an era where pop culture, social media, and politics blur into each other, tangling in every aspect of our lives. In fact, as the Kardashian, Jay Leno, and A$AP Rocky name-drops reveal, the ties between figures in pop culture and politicians have never been stronger and more influential, able to influence actual policy and political decisions.

Bernie Sanders and Ariana Grande Unite

At the same time Trump is discussing the Kardashians in one of the most high-profile hearings of all time, one of Trump's most formidable opponents is making his own ties to certain pop culture deities. Yesterday, Bernie Sanders was photographed beaming with Ariana Grande, and Grande took to Instagram to voice her support. "MY GUY. thank you Senator Sanders for coming to my show, making my whole night and for all that you stand for !" She wrote on Twitter. "@headcountorg and i are doing our best to make you proud. we've already registered 20k+ young voters at my shows alone. also i will never smile this hard again promise."

Sanders responded, "I want to thank @ArianaGrande for not only being a wonderful entertainer, but also for being such an outstanding advocate for social justice. We must all be prepared – like Ariana has shown – to fight for everyone who is struggling. It was great to meet her in Atlanta last night."

The senator has shown abnormal acumen in terms of using pop culture to his advantage, which can't entirely be said of his primary challengers. Previously, he's aligned himself with Cardi B, Susan Sarandon, and the Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. While Hillary Clinton garnered the support of thousands of A-list celebrities to no avail and put on a show of performative allyship that wound up looking like loyalty to Hollywood elites, Sanders' choice of allies feels more purposeful and genuine.

Bernie x Cardi B www.youtube.com

Then again, in the eeriest way, the same might be said of Donald Trump. His clear allegiance to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West—both figures who provoke immense ire and loathing among the masses and who, like the worst of car crashes, are incredibly difficult to look away from—aligns well with Trump's general distaste for authority and reason.

We have good reason to question celebrity alliances, as they do seem like excellent marketing for both sides. Celebrities can benefit from appearing more politically engaged through alliances to politicians, and, of course, the latter can reap the adoration of massive fanbases through a few deep connections. In some ways, celebrities and politicians seem united by the sheer amount of money and power they both amass and use to run their platforms.

But there's a long tradition of art blending with political ideology and vice versa. After all, what are politicians and performers, if not master storytellers, capable of rallying hundreds of thousands of people? When has anything been separate from politics?

Political Art vs. Pop Culture Politics

Art has always been political, used as a way of disseminating ideas and ideologies. Pop culture, in particular, is a broad mode of communication between the masses and collective values and ideas. "'Pop-culture' does not belong to just the elites and it is not officially or ideologically acknowledged as the dominant culture any level," writes Ayush Banerjee, "yet its discourse has enormous significance in the formation of public attitudes and values, as well as a profound impact on both domestic and international affairs."

Politics has also always been a theatrical game, and pop culture icons have long endorsed candidates. John F. Kennedy had Frank Sinatra sing "High Hopes" during the 1960s. Nixon famously met Elvis; and then there was Ronald Reagan, who, like Trump, made his way from Hollywood to the Oval Office.

President And King TIME.com

But in a time when silence is widely equated to taking the position of the antagonist, there's never been a time when it's been so imperative for artists to develop political alliances, and vice versa. Similarly, politicians must rely on social media and its language to channel their campaigns, as being out-of-touch with the online world can tank you as quickly as a meme can go viral.

Are celebrity relationships influential and beneficial? "If a celebrity endorsement just benefits a politician looking to boost their profile and prove their cool, then it's a lame effort to manipulate fans with short attention spans," writes John Avlon on CNN. "But if Poliwood draws sustained attention to a real public policy problem, it can serve as a gateway to civic engagement and spur political action."

Overall, the general consensus seems to be that pop culture can be useful when connected to politics if it's linked to tangible action—but the two can be like fire and gasoline when combined in the wrong way. "Politicians are not celebrities; they do not deserve fawning worship," writes Mark E. Anderson. "They are public servants, who can and should be scrutinized, and must be held accountable for their actions."

Arguably, with the rise of #MeToo and cancel culture, celebrities are being held to higher standards than ever before (which isn't saying too much, but still). Perhaps the intermixing of politics and pop culture doesn't mean that the simulation is breaking. Maybe the walls between the worlds are just falling down.

In some cases, this intermixing of pop culture and politics leads to the kind of apocalyptic cognitive dissonance that's plagued the entire Trump impeachment hearing circus. On the other hand, seeing Ariana Grande and Bernie Sanders beam together—both so full of hope for a better world—feels like the beginning of something, and God knows we all need something to get us through the next 18 months.